6th District: Dee Andrews Shows "Experts" Wrong, Bests Al Austin & Ahmed Saafir With Provisional/Add'l Absentee Ballots Still Remaining To Be Counted
(May 2, 2007) -- In a selective endorsement of greater power for LB's new Mayor and rejection of increased pay and lengthened incumbencies for LB Councilmembers, LB voters have approved Prop A and defeated Props B and C by roughly 2/3 margins.
In the May 1 special election, voters also approved Prop H, a measure backed by LB's new City Auditor, Laura Doud, police and firefighter unions and LB Mayor Bob Foster that is expected to generate roughly $3.6 million annually, to be allocated to police and fire budget items, from an increase in fees paid by firms that pump oil out of LB.
LB Firefighters President Rich Brandt and City Auditor Doud were all smiles as it became clear that the measure had received the difficult to attain 2/3 margin. "It's a good night -- actually, a great night -- for Long Beach," City Auditor Doud told LBReport.com.
Also present (not in photo) was LB Police Officers Ass'n President Steve James. As previously reported by LBReport.com, the police and firefighter unions contributed $50,000 each to the Pro-Prop H effort...a sum nearly matched by additional contributions that surfaced through the efforts of Mayor Foster [we presume on non-taxpayer time].
And in a dramatic display of the power of voters to trump the power of money, LB's central city voters have brought to the verge of victory independent-minded LB native son Dee Andrews...who framed his campaign as a way for voters to reject special interest influence in LB city elections.
As of this morning (May 2), Mr. Andrews had outpolled conventional wisdom presumed front-runners Ahmed Saafir (backed by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce PAC, former Mayor Beverly O'Neill, the Press-Telegram and Business Journal) and Al Austin (backed by Mayor Foster, big labor and big Dems including former 6th district Council incumbent/now-Assemblywoman/and now U.S. Congressional candidate Laura Richardson).
Voter turnout citywide was barely 11% -- 22,817 ballots cast out of 211,975 (10.8%) -- nearly even split between precinct ballots (5.5%) and absentee ("vote by mail") ballots (5.2%).
To view the City Clerk's tally of returns to date, click here.
When the first absentee ballots were tallied shortly after 8:00 p..m., Mr. Andrews sprang to an immediate lead over the presumed front-runners Austin and Saafir...which eventually thinned to a now-49 vote margin for Mr. Andrews over Mr. Austin with provisional and absentee ballots remaining to be counted:
|Ahmed Carl Saafir||357||17.4%|
Mr. Andrews' campaign manager, Kelton Reese, and LB campaign consultant Tracy Kittinger, both told LBReport.com that believe the provisional ballots will be strongly for Mr. Andrews, citing problems that Andrews supporters said they encountered in not receiving requested absentee ballots...which required them to vote by provisional ballots.
At 12:30 a.m. today (May 2), Mr. Andrews, his campaign manager Kelton Reese and his campaign consultant Tracy Kittinger were ecstatic, at times almost beyond words, at doing what others considered quirky and they considered achievable from the start. They had plenty to say and LBReport.com will report their words in detail on this website in the coming hours.
The 6th district Council seat is currently a swing vote on the fractious city legislative body, and some viewed the election as a duel between business vs. labor interests, exemplified by Messrs. Saafir and Austin. Many outside the district viewed Mr. Andrews' 2007 entry into the race as a "last hurrah" after he came within a handful of votes in 2000 of winning the seat against then-newcomer, politically-connected Laura Richardson...who triggered the special election by winning a Carson-LB area Assembly seat in Nov. 2006...and yesterday announced she will run to fill the seat in Congress left vacant by the death of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB).
As separately reported by LBReport.com, State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D., Southbay) -- who previously held the Carson-LB Assembly seat (now held by Richardson) after serving on the LB City Council -- has scheduled a news conference later today (May 2) at which she says she will announce her plans regarding the Congressional race.
Senator Oropeza was among the LB area political figures who stopped by the ELB Gaslamp gathering to watch the returns come in. Also seen in photo: pensive Assistant City Auditor Alex Cherin.
Also present: Vice Mayor (and 54th district Assembly candidate) Bonnie Lowenthal, along with Councilman Patrick O'Donnell.
Also present (not in photos) Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, LB Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero and Mayoral aide Gloria Cordero.
Mayor Foster showed his clout (and raised some eyebrows) in the special election by delivering six-figure campaign contributions in support of Props A-G (subsequently recalibrated to focus on Prop A) and also Prop H. LBReport.com has learned, from sources inside City Hall as well as recipient voters, that a significant GOTV ("get out the vote") campaign took place in the final hours on behalf of Prop H. Several LBReport.com readers report receiving telephone messages urging them to vote Yes on H.
Both measures had major implications for Mayor Foster. Prop A gives him a line item veto over Council budget actions, requiring a 2/3 Council vote to override his veto and effectively changing the balance between the Mayor and Council...with the citywide elected Mayor having greater power and district-elected Councilmembers having less.
"It provides additional accountability for the Mayor, and the Council, and is consistent with the balance of power between Mayors and Councils in many other cities," Mayor Foster said to LBReport.com.
Prop H provides roughly $3.6 million in additional revenue annually for public safety purposes...without which the Mayor and Council would have found it even harder to deliver police officers that Mayoral-candidate Foster pledged to deliver.
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